|Name||Hip Hop Feminisms|
|Course||WGST 29002 (45116)|
|Fulfills||Individual & Society Social Sciences (I&S SS), Pluralism & Diversity Group C (P&D C)|
|Professor||Dr. Kelly Nims|
|Day / Time||Monday, Thursday; 2:45 pm - 4:00 pm|
|Semester||Spring Session 1 2022, Spring Session 2 2022|
Although hip hop is arguably the most powerful American art form to emerge in the late twentieth century, now global in force, women and queer folks are often left out of its genealogies even though their presence is undeniable in hip hop’s new century. They have also been at the mic and in the audience for decades, despite or because of the misogyny and homophobia that have come to define the art form—this is not surprising as hip hop is certainly not separate from this violent nation’s ever-present sexism and homophobia, even as it is critical of racism in America. Simply put, hip hop and feminism seem to make for strange bedfellows. It would be a mistake, however, to overlook hip hop’s feminist, queer and sex-positive contributions, its critique of the violence that is required for producing gendered, raced and desiring subjects as well as its demands for pleasure and agency.
Hip hop’s feminisms take on various, sometimes surprising, forms: Big Freedia’s challenge to binaristic identities; MC Lyte and Missy Elliot taking the mic when the idea of a female rapper was an oxymoron; Jay Z’s resignification of the word “bitch”; Lil’Kim’s insistence that she could be both the object of desire and the subject who out raps her male counterparts; Cardi B.’s unapologetic history as a sex worker; KRS One’s call for men to stop objectifying women as well as the power women rappers may feel in objectifying themselves.
Rather than engaging with hip hop from the center, our course shifts the focus to its feminist and queer margins, crafting a more nuanced genealogy through music, film, photography, video and cultural criticism. Our genealogy is one that will not only grapple with the art form’s reliance on conventions of sexism and homophobia but also the ways in which hip hop has always been intersectional, meaning the ways in which hip hop is feminist and queer in its antiracist cultural production. To dismiss hip hop as misogynistic given impoverished stereotypes is to dismiss some of the most necessary and radical iterations of contemporary feminism.